Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #116
This is the one-hundred and sixteenth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and fifteen. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This is ANOTHER special theme week! Each urban legend this week is related to that merry band of mutants, the X-Men!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel got rid of the X-Ternals because of threats of litigation by the Highlander folks.
Blog pal Kelvin asked me this one a LOOOOOOOOOONG time ago (I think late 2005):
Did Apocalypse’s immortal buddies, the X-Ternals, get written out of the X-Men mythos due to the people behind Highlander getting antsy about immortal characters? This is apparently also the reason why Apocalypse himself is no longer immortal, but does the rejuvenation chamber thing.
The X-Ternals first showed up in the pages of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza’s X-Force, where Cannonball is seemingly mortally wounded.
Instead, we learn that Cannonabll is actually an X-Ternal, a rare type of mutant who is virtually immortal. Apocalypse was an X-Ternal, as was Selene and a few other characters, such as Crule and Gideon.
A few years later, the X-Ternals (who has not been brought up much in Nicieza’s time on the book after Liefeld left the title) were quickly brought back and summarily dismissed.
Selene ended up killing all of them (except Apocalypse, of course) and then stated that Cannonball was not, in fact, an X-Ternal, after all.
It seemed clear as though Marvel was specifically eliminating these characters, and Kelvin’s theory is that the Highlander folks were pressuring Marvel about the characters, as the whole “special group of immortals” is basically Highlander’s entire schtick.
I asked former X-Editor, Mark Powers, about it, and he said that no, that wasn’t the case, and it was a decision made by the creative team, not editorial, to close a storyline that was a major part of Liefeld’s run on the title, to give the book a fresh start.
Thanks for the question, Kelvin, and thanks for the answer, Mark!
Mark is currently writing GI Joe for Devil’s Due, as long as an upcoming series called Drafted, in case anyone is interested in reading his current comic work!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Scott Lobdell introduced Onslaught without knowing who or what Onslaught was.
In Tom DeFalco’s awesome interview book, Comic Creators on X-Men, Scott Lobdell recounts the state of the X-Men books after the bold title-wide Age of Apocalypse storyline.
Lobdell mentioned that after the crossover ended, each title was basically given free rein to try out any type of story they wanted. Warren Ellis wanted an issue of Excalibur where they just went to a pub – he got to do the story. Well, Lobdell’s idea was for some bad guy to toss Juggernaut through the sky, and all Juggernaut would be able to tell the X-Men was one word, “Onslaught.”
All the other writers were intrigued, but when they demanded to know who Onslaught was, here is what Lobdell said:
I told them that I had no idea, but I just thought it was a cool way to open a story. Imagine someone so strong that they could hurl Juggernaut across the sky! I ended up doing that opening sequence, but I still didn’t know who Onslaught was.
That became a problem later on, when other writers were told to give hints to Onslaught in their titles, but didn’t know who Onslaught WAS!
Larry Hama’s clues in Wolverine, in particular, really didn’t jibe with the later revelation that Onslaught was Professor X himself, corrupted by Magneto’s mind.
But luckily for Lobdell, when Marvel needed a big threat to lead into Heroes Reborn, he happened to have a mysterious big threat in his back pocket, and when it was determined that it was an evil Professor X, then suddenly Juggernaut (Professor X’s step-brother) being the first victim made a whole lot more sense.
Alls well that ends well! Thanks to Tom DeFalco for the interview and Scott Lobdell for the candor!
Speaking of Larry Hama interpreting Scott Lobdell ideas….
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Larry Hama’s origin for M and Penance was not what Scott Lobdell originally intended for the characters.
In Generation X, there were two mysterious characters on the team.
First, there was the mute mutant with razor-sharp skin called Penance, because that is what the mutant teleporter Gateway said when she first showed up.
Next, there was Monet St. Croix, who had lots of weird character tics, and was hunted by a mysterious villain named Emplate.
After Lobdell left the title, Larry Hama revealed that Emplate was the brother of Penance AND M, and that M was actually made up of two young twin sisters who merged together to form a duplicate of their older sister, Monet.
Monet, in turn, was trapped in the form of Penance, unable to tell people who she was.
At the end of the story, the twins switch places with Monet, and became trapped in the Penance skin themselves, allowing Monet to return to being herself again.
That origin, though, really did not fit the clues that Lobdell had laid in the book, and when asked about it, Lobdell explained his actual plans. Here are his answers (courtesy of an interview with Nate Raymond):
Raymond – What was YOUR plan for the revelation of M?
Lobdell – Well, it unfolded pretty much the way I wanted it too up until the moment that M split. From BEFORE her first appearance, the plan was to have her split after that wall fell on her . . . they would go through the wreckage and find the TWINS! After that, EMMA and SEAN were going to be forced to make a truly difficult decision: Do you allow the TWINS to stay together as the supper powered M–thereby putting their lives in constant danger–or do you force them to stay apart and live relatively normal lives (except that would mean the autistic one would never know the freedom she enjoyed as M! Ahhhh, the tragedy.) As you can see, they strayed as FAR away from the original idea as possible.
Raymond – Why is Emplate called ‘Emplate’?
Lobdell – It was short for TEMPLATE–the idea was going to be, as we saw in his first appearance, that he was going to be something of a tabula rasa . . . so that as he feasted on the genetic marrow of mutants, he would eventually take their powers from them as well. Imagine a vampire who could become the person he bit, so to speak.
The hard part about EMPLATE too, is that he only looks cool when Chris draws him. Like SUGAR MAN./p>
Raymond – Who/what was Penny going to turn out to be?
Lobdell – Penny was short for PENANCE — the only word GATEWAY spoke when he dropped her off after kidnaping her from EMPLATE. But it wasn’t her name, it was GATEWAY explaining this was his penance for his part in the murder of the Hellions. It would ultimately have been revealed that her name was YVETTE, and that she was a sixteen-year-old survivor of the warring in Yugoslavia. She was deaf since birth, which explained her childlike naivete as well as he inability to communicate with others. She was supposed to be the first deaf mutant . . . I think it is kind of sad that she was never allowed to be who she is.
That IS too bad. Sounds like it would have been an interesting origin.
Thanks to Nate Raymond for the interview and Scott Lobdell for the answers!
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!